If Sunday’s race is any indication, 2015 is going to be a breakout year for Leavine Family Racing. The team’s performance in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season finale race was a manifestation of the hard work performed the entire season.
Driver Michael McDowell qualified the No. 95 KLOVE Radio/Thrivent Financial Ford in 38th position at Homestead-Miami Speedway for Sunday’s race.
The start of the Ford EcoBoost 400 was challenging for McDowell, as the car was really tight and tough to handle in the corners. The team ended up three laps down by lap 112, racing in 37thposition.
In true LFR fashion, the team did not back down and continued to push forward in adjusting the car and working to secure the best position possible on the track.
The ‘never give up’ attitude worked. In the final 70 laps, two cautions came at the perfect time for the No. 95 team and provided McDowell the opportunity to get back on the lead lap.
With three laps to go, McDowell was in 29th position. Following a pit stop for fresh tires, crew chief Wally Rogers told McDowell to “give him three qualifying laps.”
McDowell did just that, gaining eight positions and crossing the finish line just ahead of the No. 17 car to secure a 21st place finish – a driver and team best at Homestead-Miami Speedway.
“That was a lot of fun and a great way to end the year,” said McDowell. “I really want to thank this team for a solid effort today. We executed well, never gave up and secured a great finish in the season finale.”
“I’m very proud of what our team has been able to accomplish this year and McDowell drove the wheels off of it during those last three laps,” said Rogers. “That ‘never give up’ attitude is starting to pay off for our team. Going into this race our plan was to finish out this season strong and keep the momentum going for next year. With that race execution and finish, we are on that path and ready to go in 2015.”
It was a solid season for Leavine Family Racing, which secured a team-best seventh place finish at Daytona International Speedway. In addition to the 21st place finish at Homestead, an 18thplace finish at Bristol was another season highlight for the team.
The seventh place finish at Daytona was McDowell’s career-best finish in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series. He completed 5,122 of 5,464 laps this season for LFR, a 93.7% completion rate.
This week, McDowell and the Leavine Family Racing team will join forces with Thrivent Financial and pack gifts for Operation Christmas Child, a Samaritan’s Purse project, on Thursday, Nov. 20 from 5:30pm to 7:30pm at Christ Lutheran Church in Charlotte, NC. The event is open to the public.